This post includes some test prep suggestions for students heading into their 10th grade year. This will be followed by posts with suggestions for Honors 10th graders and posts for 11th graders. Please feel free to contact us to respond to this post. You are welcome to ask questions or make comments.
First, I will provide some suggestions for students in regular classes and then give some suggestions for honors and AP Students in subsequent posts.
10th Grade Year: Take the PSAT during the Fall - Non-Honors Students
Most school counselors will urge their Advanced Placement (AP) and honors-track students to take the PSAT their 10th grade year. However, many schools do not encourage non-honors students to take the PSAT. This is unfortunate because many of these non-honors students will wind up going to college. Talk to your child’s counselor and school administrators and make sure you get your child signed up for this test. Taking this test will benefit non-honors students in several ways.
First, it gives them a diagnostic test that shows strengths and areas needing improvement. Having this knowledge in the 10th grade year will help you determine if you need to sign your child up for remedial tutoring. You may then use this as a baseline to track improvement on the next PSAT and later SATs.
Second, it will be valuable as a practice exercise in which your student will become more familiar with the PSAT and SAT. They will learn the standard test format including question types and content.
Third, they will have an additional chance to practice their test-taking skills. My experience is that students become better test takers with practice, so take advantage of every opportunity. Finally, if they do well — for example, score better than the 70th percentile or so — on the composite score, you may want to prep them for the 11th grade PSAT to try to qualify for a National Merit Award.
Excerpt from The Parent's Guide to the SAT and ACT, by James Pipkin